Nigel Mansell hails Vettel's 'phenomenal' start to 2011 F1 season

Nigel Mansell has praised the performance of world champion Sebastian Vettel this season, the Briton saying the Red Bull driver has been the best at dealing with the new tyres

Nigel Mansell hails Vettel's 'phenomenal' start to 2011 F1 season

"It is phenomenal," said Mansell, speaking during the announcement of Williams's new Renault deal, of Vettel's start to the season.

"Ferrari did set new benchmarks when they went three years without a mechanical breakdowns. Michael Schumacher won three world championships and people have said that it was through reliability as much as anything else.

"So Red Bull now are making a new benchmark - what can be done from out of the starting blocks if you get everything perfect.

"But don't underestimate... Sebastian has done the best job with the Pirelli tyres, and for me my take on it is he's not been used to the other older tyres, where you get a lot of balance and grip and everything else, and there are a lot of drivers out there who have been used to a different type of tyres and they haven't had the same sort of response from the Pirelli as the past.

"And I think that Sebastian is dealing with the tyre situation far better than the others."

The former world champion, who took his only title by dominating the 1992 season, believes however that Vettel cannot afford to relax, just like Mansell himself knew he could not celebrate ahead of time despite his dominance with the Williams 19 years ago.

"No, because I had been bridesmaid three times, and I had lost the world championship by one point at the last race," he said.

"When you have been in those circumstances you never relax and you know I knew in the winter of '91, because I was supposed to go in for an operation on my left foot - which was broken - I couldn't afford three months off.

"So I put that operation off until the end of 1992 and just wore special shoes, because it's so important. You couldn't let anything get in the way, even having a few problems with your left foot, and having broken bones, doesn't matter. Don't let it get in the way."

Another former world champion, Jacques Villeneuve, believes there is no doubt about Vettel's speed, but he reckons the German's mistake in Canada shows he still has to learn to resist the pressure.

"I don't know because he has had it easy," Villeneuve said when asked about Vettel's performance.

"He is super-fast. This year his speed has improved, but the one time he had a bit of pressure, in Montreal, he cracked up. He collapsed. It was an easy race, it was won, and he just collapsed. So that has not evolved from last year."

The Canadian also believes Vettel's age - 23 - should not be an excuse to make mistakes.

"That is not an excuse, you're allowed to give anyone that's in Formula 1. At any top level of sport, excuses aren't available. It doesn't matter how old you are, you've got there and you are not young anymore.

"You are an F1 driver or a football player, but once you are at the top level, no excuses are available. You are not allowed to be young, you are supposed to learn fast."

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